November was another busy month! Guy’s Birthday, a trip to Chicago, Thanksgiving, my Birthday and the start of the Christmas holiday festivities!
Guy’s Birthday! November 8th 2010
We celebrated Guy’s Birthday with presents in the morning before he went to work, one when Layla and I met him to take him to sushi for lunch and more when he got home, and a fun dinner at Benihana with friends and family!
Early morning presents!
After work presents!
and even a cake from the Carroll’s next door!
Benihanna with Michelle and Joe, Nicole, and Dave T. Thank you all for celebrating Guy’s Birthday and making it a special day!
Our Trip to Chicago November 10th through 16th
The leaves were changing and they were beautiful!!
Guy had to attend a trade show in Chicago and needed to work for only one day so Layla and I tagged along. We made a great 6 day trip out of it and saw and did a ton! We also ate very well while we were there! It was perfect flip flop and t-shirt weather the day after we arrived but that was it for the California friendly weather, after the first day it got REALLY COLD (for us) but we had a blast!
The first day we were there November 11th we walked along Michigan Ave. and through Grant Park, we went to The Field Museum and to the American Girl store.
Layla running along Grant Park on our way to The Field Museum of Natural History to see Sue!
Layla and Daddy cruising through Grant Park! It was a beautiful day for a walk!
Layla and Mommy in Grant Park.
Our beautiful little girl!
More beautiful fall foliage, something we do not get much of in Southern California!
The Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum was awesome. There was a wonderful children’s area as we first entered. We spent time playing, exploring and learning!
Layla dressed up as a skunk and pretended to live in the forest. Mommy joined in for some of the fun too!
After spending time as a woodland creature Layla ran through a “corn field.”
Next, we went into the arts and crafts room. We wrote what Layla said she was thankful for on a construction paper feather. She said, “I am thankful for Mommy, Daddy, Layla, My Peeps, and My Doggies.” So that is what we wrote! The feather was then placed up on the wall on a giant turkey!
After exploring the children’s area of the museum we entered the rest of the museum and saw Sue right away! She is awe inspiring! She is a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, you can not miss her! She measures 13 feet at the hip. One interesting thing we learned about Sue is that the head or skull on the body is a replica, Sue’s actual skull is displayed upstairs because at 600 pounds it is too heavy to display on the skeleton.
Here is Sue’s real head! There was all sorts of amazing and very interesting information learned about Sue because of her skull, how it was found and the markings found upon it! I LOVE MUSEUMS, seeing and learning all sorts of interesting facts about our world!
Layla standing between two totems from the Pacific North West.
American Girl Place: Chicago!
We cannot go to a city with an American Girl Doll store and not go shopping! We got all sorts of outfits for Bity Baby, who of course made the trip to Chicago with us because The American Girl Place was on the itinerary! The store was all decked out for Christmas (as was every store and window) which made it really fun! Layla also chose to get the baby bag for Bity Baby which had extra Bity Baby diapers, wipes, a changing pad, pretend diaper cream, a sippy cup and a rattle! Layla was entertained for the rest of the trip in the hotel room changing Bity Baby’s diaper! It is so fun to go to a store that caters to little girls with Layla and Daddy. Guy rolls his eyes at all of the silly Bity Baby gear but loves it and can’t say not to Layla or I! We are two very lucky girls!
Our second day in Chicago was filled with a day at Navy Pier, Crystal Gardens, The Chicago Children’s Museum, Lunch at the Purple Pig, Shopping, and dinner with a Wisconsin friend at Gino’s East for Chicago style deep dish pizza!
BURRRR! Layla all bundled up for a brisk Chicago morning!
Chicago’s Navy Pier was a super fun way to spend the morning! We rode on the Ferris Wheel and the carrousel and enjoyed the views of Lake Michigan and the beautiful Chicago skyline!
Waiting with Daddy to get on the Ferris wheel.
That is a genuine smile (mine) but not because I enjoy riding on a Ferris Wheel but because I am sharing an experience with Layla. I actually despise Ferris Wheels but am willing to temporarily overcome my fear and dislike of them for Layla. This one was particularly scary because of many reasons, it was gigantic and went VERY high, it was not totally enclosed, on a pier over very cold water and had an amazing yet eerie view of the Chicago skyline which made you feel even higher up that you really were!
Guy does not mind a Ferris Wheel ride, especially one with Layla!
The view in one direction from the Ferris Wheel.
Our little family safely back on land after the Ferris Wheel ride!
I much prefer a carrousel! Layla also loves the carrousel!
Just inside the Buildings the the land end of Navy Pier is Crystal Gardens. A huge indoor tropical garden with dancing water spouts and beautiful tropical plants.
Layla with water jumping in spurts over her head!
Time for a snack….
and some dancing!
The Chicago Children’s Museum
Also next door to Navy Pier and Crystal Gardens is the Chicago Children’s Museum. Whenever we are in a city with Layla that has a Children’s Museum we try to go. This was a wonderful Children’s Museum we had a blast!
Driving into the museum with daddy!
Layla the Archeologist! Digging up Dinosaurs bones! This was an awesome exhibit complete with rubber “dirt” archeologist vests, brushes and any other tool you would need to excavate as an archeologist. Then under the little rubber pieces were dinosaur skeletons to discover and clean off!
Layla also enjoyed the huge flower garden,
a giant comfy couch,
building what she named, “Layla Land,”
putting on a puppet show,
and playing some music with the maracas,
All bundled up after our very busy morning!
After Navy Pier, Crystal Gardens, and the Children’s Museum Layla was tired! Sooo….
I enjoyed a big beer while Guy and I waited to be seated at The Purple Pig! We ended up wearing Layla out in the morning and early afternoon most days and were able to enjoy a long leisurely late lunch/early dinner at really nice restaurants while she slept soundly in the stroller! We also ate some pretty great meals with her awake too! We did not dumb down any meals or forgo any restaurants on our list because she was with us! The first night we got there we ate at Publican which was one of Guy’s favorites, we also ate at and saw Rick Bayless (of Top Chef Master) Frontera Grill, The Purple Pig, Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef’s The Girl and the Goat, Gino’s East for Chicago style deep dish pizza, and Al’s Italian Beef for an Italian Beef Sandwich for Guy. I was also able to enjoy Chicago style hot dogs with tomatoes and pickles from cart vendors because Chicago hot dog vendors are vegetarian friendly! Guy was also tweeting with Rick Bayless about where to eat and we ate at a killer Chinese restaurant and Greek restaurant upon his recommendations. Chicago is a wonderful food town! Being the foodies that we are, good food was a priority on the Chicago itinerary! We can’t wait to go back and eat (and drink) our way through Chicago again!
Us at The Girl and the Goat with Stephanie Izard!
Seeing Friends from Wisconsin
A long time friend of mine from my middle and high school days in Wisconsin, her husband (who we also went to high school with) and her daughter drove to Chicago to join us for dinner at Gino’s East. It was wonderful to see Jen, Jolie, and Rich. Thank you for driving out to see us!
Layla and Jolie
Jen and Myself
The Chicago Science and Industry Museum
On our third day in the City, November 13th, we went to the Science and Industry Museum which was highly recommended by a family friend who lived in Chicago. Yes, she was right it was amazing and a must see! Planes, trains, automobiles, castles (Layla’s favorite), tractors, a “working”coal mine (my favorite), hatching chicks, and an ice cream parlor!
When our cab dropped us off out front we could not help but notice the HUGE Scooby Doo balloon! People were practicing for the Thanksgiving parade.
Layla trying to catch the crazy floating ball!
The Science and Industry Museum also had a great children’s exploration area!
Layla = small, tractor wheel = big!
Feelin’ a little mid west with tractors and cows!
An old trolley car.
Watching baby chicks hatch was pretty wild!
What is a day at the museum without a stop at an old fashioned ice cream parlor!
The Art Institute of Chicago
On November 14th we woke up and spend the morning at the Chicago Art Institute! Art museums have to be one of my absolute favorite places on the planet! I hope Layla loves, appreciates, and looks forward to them as much as I do someday! We saw an amazing collection of impressionist works! The museum’s reputation rests primarily on its collection of impressionist and post impressionist paintings which is one of the largest and most important outside France. We saw Van Gogh, Pissaro, Gauguin, Monet, and Seurat which Layla recognized from her book Katie’s Sunday Afternoon She pointed at A Sunday on La Grand Jatte by Georges Seurat and said “look Mommy it’s Katie’s Day at the Museum!”
Layla and one of the big lions outside of the Chicago Art Institute!
The Shedd Aquarium
On the day Guy had to work November 15th, Layla and I went to the Shedd Aquarium. I had heard and read that it was a must see. I was skeptical because we have such amazing aquariums in southern California, which is actually next to an ocean. I was saying to myself, “How great can an aquarium in Chicago really be?” Well it was amazing, like Sea World and our aquarium combined! It is the worlds largest indoor aquarium! We saw a show with dolphins, beluga whales and hawks. There were sea lions, otters, and tanks and tanks of fish, sea creatures, rays, sharks, and even sea turtles! The highlight for me was watching a baby beluga nurse from its mother, that was one of the absolutely most heart warming things I have ever seen! The photo is very blurry probably because I was so excited but I will post it anyway! The aquarium is located right on Lake Michigan. The indoor amphitheater where we saw the show was like a zero edge pool/tank. It was made so the water in the tank just kept right on going into the lake. It was a very cool Aquarium and we would definitely visit again if we are ever in Chicago!
Blurry yet still pretty amazing, mama beluga nursing her baby! The photo does not do it justice!
There was a wonderful children’s area with all sorts of hands on activities. Dressing up like penguins, enjoyed the statues, everything she could touch, and all of the buttons she got to push!
My little penguin! Layla got to dress up like a penguin an waddle around and down a slide belly first just like penguins do!
The view outside of the museum.
A Long Walk Back to the Hotel With Lots to Stop and See
Layla and I walked along the lake on our way back to the hotel. I knew I wanted to stop and see the Buckingham Fountain but did not realize we would see so many other great sights along the way! We crossed over the BP Bridge, saw Cloud Gate also known as “the bean”
The Buckingham Fountain
Layla in front of The Buckingham Fountain.
The Buckingham Fountain was unfortunately drained, which they do at the beginning of November, we missed it by only a few days. The fountain is huge, modeled after a fountain at the Palace of Versailles, but this one is nearly twice the size and may be why I do not remember seeing it when I was at Versailles. It was magnificent without water pluming from it I can only imagine how cool it would be to see it working! It had huge carving of sea shells and sea weed and 4 giant sea horses! I hope to see it working someday!
The BP Bridge
The BP Bridge was super cool! A huge meandering stainless steel bridge!
Cloud Gate aka the Bean
Cloud Gate is a super cool kidney bean shaped sculpture by Anish Kapoor has amazing reflections of the city skyline and the crowds of people around it. It was fun to take lots of pictures of us in the refection!
On our walk back through the city to our hotel, Layla and I even walked around the block where Macy’s was so we could look at all of the amazing windows decorated for Christmas! Then we went inside to see the Macy’s Christmas tree! It was phenomenal! There was even a fairy princess who blew fairy dust on Layla!
The historical Landmark clock hanging outside of Macy’s
On of the very cool windows decorated with moving parts telling a Christmas story about believing in the magic of Christmas! The photo is not great but the window was!
Macy’s Christmas tree! Again, the photo is not great but the tree was!
What’s a vacation without turning yourself into a mummy with toilet paper in the hotel room bathroom!! At least she was having fun and going potty on the big girl potty!
The Sears Tower
On our last day in Chicago, November 16th, the only thing left on my list of things I really had to see was the Sears Tower. Which is still the tallest building in The United States and was it high up there!
There were these window boxes with see through floors that stuck out of the side of the building! Yikes!! Guy and Layla had no problem stepping out onto them. Layla was even jumping up and down, which made my heart stop! I, on the other hand could not quite go all the way out on it! I had to hold on to the solid wall in order to even step out onto it! I was not comfortable but glad I did it!
Layla is absolutely fearless!
I am a different story when it comes to heights!
Makin’ Orange Juice November 17, 2010
WHAT??? Doesn’t everyone make their homemade orange juice pants-less??
Oceanside Turkey Trot November 25, 2010
On the morning of Thanksgiving I ran the Oceanside Turkey Trot. It is an annual 5k run I had done it once before and was excited to run it again this year. Guy, Layla, Louie and I walked down to the start at the Oceanside Civic Center Library! It was fun to have them cheer me on at both the start and the finish line!
The last time I ran the Turkey Trot I was training hard and running a lot! I was in much better shape. So with that being said, my goal was to run the whole thing. I did it, my time was not comparable to the last time but I ran the whole thing and reached my goal! Looking forward to next year! Hopefully Guy and Layla will join me in the race!
Thanksgiving 2010 November 25, 2010
Nice, Dad, real nice!!! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!! Only my Dad!
Diana, Myself and Nicole
Dad at the grill and me with my champagne!
Me and my amazing parents!
Layla and Jocelyn
Our little family! Amazing sunset at my parents on Thanksgiving too!
Smooches for Layla
Nonna, Papa, Layla and I
My family and my parents!
Layla and Ahta (Auntie Nicole)
Nonna and her girl
Ahta and Layla hugs
Daddy and Layla hugs
Nanny, Layla and I
Papa, Layla and I
Papa, Layla, Myself, and Nonna
Guy always gets the job of turkey carver on Thanksgiving! He enjoys his job but ends up full before he sits down to dinner! He looks like he is having a great time!
Nanny Lucy and Eileen, the best of friends
Layla enjoying her Thanksgiving feast
Bottoms up Dosi!
Diana and Guy
Layla performing her rendition of “I’m a Little Turkey”
Hugs and kisses for Shad! So cute!
Happy Birthday to Me!
This year Thanksgiving fell on the day before my Birthday. My Dad and Donna made sure to make it very special with the entire family by having an ice cream cake candles and everyone sing “Happy Birthday” Layla was covered with blue frosting!
Legoland Christmas Tree Lighting Nov. 29
It has become a tradition for Nicole, Layla and I to attend the Legoland Christmas tree lighting every year during the holidays. The entire tree and all of the ornaments are made out of Legos. As is Santa, and his Sleigh, reindeer, and snowmen! After the tree lighting there are fire works and then the grand finale is that it snows, a very rare occurrence in Carlsbad, California!
Layla in Santa’s Sleigh
Layla and Ahta in Santa’s sleigh
Mommy and Layla with Santa in his Sleigh
All of the Z girls with Santa!
Layla and a Lego snowman.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Layla and Ahta enjoying the snowfall
Mommy and Layla in the snow!
Layla and the Legoland Christmas tree! Happy beginning of the Holiday Season!